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Reflections on ITSMA MV 2020

Paul Mackender

October 26, 2020

Now in its 26th year, last week saw marketing leaders and practitioners from across the globe gather for ITSMA’s Marketing Vision conference, 2020. The big difference this year, of course, being that this was the first time they gathered virtually, in the comfort of their own homes, gaining insight, education and peer sharing over video. 

But the show went on, and ITSMA did a superb job of bringing together some of global B2B marketing’s top CMOs and practitioners. Indeed, more than 50 speakers and session leaders from the top technology, services and telecom firms, including SAP, Infosys, IBM, Citrix, Microsoft, Deloitte, HP, Capgemini, shared strategies, innovative ideas, best practices and lessons learned as practitioners have worked to adapt marketing, rethink ABM and reposition brands throughout the pandemic.

We listened and we learned. It was particularly gratifying to hear Agent3 get called out for excellence in at least two sessions but, beyond that, there were some great comments from the speakers that reflected the adapted role of marketing over the last few months. Here is our list of Top 10 quotes that either made our hearts sing, or generally validated the Agent3 ABM approach: 

“There is a fine line between a brilliant strategy and a fantasy.  That line is called risk. Come of the most seductive growth strategies are not tethered to reality.”
Michael Treacy, Treacy & Company

“We have made considered investments into technology and tools to enable us to be a more data-driven marketing organisation.  This has brought together sales and marketing and, as a result, we’ve seen our marketing-influenced bookings double this year over last year and that’s due to the fact that our marketing has become much more focused on: who are the clients that we want to work with?  When is the right time to engage them? What is the right messaging and the right format? How can you adjust very quickly?  For us, the situation has accelerated our long term strategies that we were already pursuing.”
Shade Vaugn, Capgemini

“Marketing gives sales all the weapons: the knowledge, the account, the behaviour, the buying signals, so they can take it and just bring it home. I always tell the sales guys: ‘you’re the James Bond and we’re the Q”
Ann Ruckstuhl, SVP and CMO, Unisys

“Marketing (the front end) is all over the digital transformation – it’s well under way.  The back end, sales and service, not so much.  This is mainly happening in organisations who understand that field sales no longer work, it’s insight sales that do.  Insight sales use tools and technologies to make things happen.  This is an issue that’s really got to get dealt with”
Michael Treacy, Treacy & Company

“Having the ability to use AI and decision tools that take all that data and translate it into insight, and then insight into action, so that we can deliver a better experience for our sales teams and for our customers and personalise those experiences….that’s the kind of stuff where we can get really creative.” 
Jim Jackson, HPE

“We have to continue progress with driving the business case and the ROI on marketing.  We need to really focus on the data and proving how we’re driving revenue and impacting the organisation.  We mustn’t go backwards on that.  It puts credibility in the bank.”
Shade Vaugn, Capgemini

“Executives don’t want sales pitches.  They want to have conversations with you, and not every conversation should be a sales pitch. They want sales to be problem solvers and educators.  They want to learn about what their peers are doing.  To do this, sales people need knowledge and insight about the account, the technology, the industry and competitors.  This is a lot.  And it’s tough, and all of this on top of having to build their relationships virtually. “ 
Julie Schwartz, ITSMA SVP

“The strategies that have worked well have been around thought leadership. ABM has been an extremely successful strategy for us this year.  The results have been disproportionately good in driving awareness and generating interest in Capita Services.”
Antonia Wade, Capita

(On advice to marketers) “Be the best and most rounded marketer you can be, hire people that are smarter than you, and give them licence to do what they’re good at, collaborate with those you do and don’t like – other departments. You have to keep broadening your horizon in order to keep moving up. Be nimble and resilient in the face of change.”
Mona Charif, EVP & CMO, NTT Data Services

“Back in the day, in the corporate world, you had a face of stone.  You towed the company line, your work and personal lives never mixed, you were corporate all the way.  And that’s not true anymore.  And we need to recognise that. Now’s the chance to say your company has a shot at being empathetic, and not just peddling products and services.  That comes in day-to-day ABM, strategic brand development and communications.  It’s a great time to be a marketer and be empathetic and authentic.” 
Arthur Filip, EVP and Global Head of Marketing & Sales Transformation, HCL

Over the coming weeks, we will delve into some of the sessions in greater depth and provide some of our own perspectives around the main themes.  As ever, we’d love to hear your feedback as we go along – please do message us with your questions or comments.

Thank you, ITSMA, and congratulations and on a successful event!

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